The Empire State Building, the focus of the largest green retrofit project in the U.S., has achieved another sustainability first: The iconic New York City high-rise has become biggest commercial purchaser of green power in town.
Malkin Holdings, the firm that supervises the landmark building, has signed a two-year contract with Green Mountain Energy for wind power renewable energy certificates. The purchase from Green Mountain's corporate parent, NRG Energy, will cover 100 percent of the electricity used at the 2.85-million-square-foot Empire State Building -- an arrangement that amounts to the equivalent of about 55 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually and will avoid almost 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year, the parties announced this morning.
Green Mountain Energy CEO Paul Thomas, Malkin Holdings President Anthony E. Malkin and NRG President and CEO David Crane (pictured left to right in the inset photo) flipped a symbolic switch to commemorate the arrangement that began Monday, the first business day of the new year.
Green Mountain's contract with the Empire State Building grew out of a desire to get the best energy deal for the property -- rather than a specific search for green power, said Malkin, who was joined by Thomas and Crane in a phone interview with GreenBiz.com today.
"Everything that we're doing at the Empire State Building is about business and, bottom line, that's the first and most important thing," said Malkin. "We're not about paying more to do something qualitatively different, we're about market-ready solutions. We didn't know we were doing green power until the bid was won by Green Mountain."
The emergence of Green Mountain as the winning bidder supports efforts by the Empire State Building's owner to make it a showcase of energy efficiency, demonstrate that sustainability is good business and vice versa -- and develop a model for other large commercial buildings to do the same.
In April 2009, Malkin, former president Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a roughly two-year, $20-million retrofit that's designed to reduce energy consumption by 38 percent and cut energy costs by $4.4 million a year in the process.
Malkin brought together Clinton Climate Initiative, Jones Lang LaSalle, Johnson Controls and Rocky Mountain Institute as partners in the project that has eight major components. One of them, the retrofit of 6,514 double-hung windows by the firm Serious Materials, was completed last September and became the centerpiece of an eye-catching display at the Greenbuild convention two months later.